After touring Angkor Wat, we had a short stop for lunch which I will post in my final Cambodia post for food adventures and misadventure, and then we were off to another temple complex called Angkor Thom. (Please note that Angkor means City and Wat means temple and Thom means Great). So our second stop of the day was to the Great City, which means it was much larger than Angkor Wat and actually held various temples that were much smaller than Angkor Wat but impressive nonetheless.
Again, we managed to avoid the crowds as seen from the photos below of the gate to Angkor Thom with very few people in it. There are also some photos of the statues leading up the gate which tell a mythical story and are partially restored. Finally there is an up close photo of the entrance gate with the four Buddha faces on it, facing all four cardinal directions. Again the photos just don’t do it justice but it gives you a sense of what it would have looked like.
After passing through the gate, we headed to the most impressive temple in Angkor Thom called Bayon. It was built in the late 12th century or early 13th century, so after Angkor Wat and is definitely Buddhist. It at one point was believed to have 49 towers, but now only 37 remain and each one of them has four Buddha faces on them facing the cardinal directions. It is fascinating to see the temple from afar (see the first two photos) and not completely realize that the towers have detailed faces on them, but once you climb up into the upper levels as you can see below the faces become quite clear as seen in the later photos.
Carrie and I even took the opportunity to kiss the Buddha…I think Carrie is a little better at kissing than I am. As evidenced by just how far away I am from the Buddha’s lips.
After touring Bayon we headed to our last stop for the day at the two terraces inside Angkor Thom. The first one is called The Terrace of Elephants and the second one is called the Terrace of the Leper King. These Terraces were used as viewing points by the king to oversee the army or games that were held in the field just out front of the terrace. (See the first photo) It was remarkable to see the carving on every surface of these terraces despite the supposed utilitarian nature of the terraces. Also, it was nice to see the carvings including the elephant trunks still intact. The last photo is of the Leper King, lending it’s name to the platform…which has a unique story but I don’t want to ruin it here to I will let you go to Cambodia to hear it.
After all the day of touring, we headed back to our guesthouse and just in time as the rain poured when we got to our place. After the quick but heavy down pore we walked the 3 blocks to ‘old town’ to enjoy Siem Reap food and night life. That was the end of day one.